CHICAGO (WBBM) – If candidates in Chicago’s municipal elections want to knock the competition off the ballot, 69 West Washington is the place to be for the next several days.

LISTEN: Newsradio 780’s Steve Miller Reports

There are 50 computer terminals on the 6th floor Board of Election offices. There are another 60 on the lower level. And most, if not all, are filled with people checking candidates’ petitions.

“Sometimes we have so many people who are requesting it that we move staff away from their own computers.”

Jim Allen, spokesman for the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners, says all those people are trying to catch a phony signature. A signature of somebody who isn’t registered to vote. Anything that adds up to a challenge.

That means longer hours at the Board of Election. And work through the weekend. Every day but Thanksgiving.

“That’s the way it is. I mean there are 380 candidates who filed compared to 265 four years ago. That’s a 48 percent

increase.”

And everybody’s checking.

“Everybody’s checking.”

What’s the most common defect in signatures on nominating petitions?

“There are a lot of people who have not registered to vote or, since they moved from a previous address, haven’t

registered to vote at their current address. And so that is the most common defect.”

So says Richard Means, an attorney who specializes in election law.

Newsradio 780 asked Means to speak in general terms about petitions he’s seen in more than 40 years of practicing law.

He says there are what’s called “tavern petitions” or “counter petitions.”

“Where the petition is just laying on the bar in a tavern or by the cash register at a convenience store.”

Strictly prohibited, Means says.

“Well, I suppose the most brazen thing is forgeries all by the same person.”

You don’t see that much anymore, he says.